The End.

I just finished watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? for the first time (I know, I know, shame on me). It was a great film, but what I liked best was the ending.

Spoiler alert for those of us who have been under rocks since 1962.

Okay, so the best part was the precise cut at the moment the cops run down the beach to check on Blanche. I loved it because the movie ended right before we find out whether Blanche is dead. We see a psychotic Jane spinning and dancing in the crowd, and the crowd moving away, and the cops almost reaching Blanche, then BOOM! It’s over.

Did Blanche die? If so, will Jane be going to prison? When Blanche told Jane that she’d caused her own accident, was Blanche only trying to befriend Jane so Jane would go get help?

I loved it so much because I love complex endings. I love not being told precisely what happened. I love it when the exact ending is left up to my imagination.

It’s something I try to do with my own fiction: take What’s Inside, for example. The story has an ending, in a way, but it’s up to the reader to decide what comes next. Some reviews wanted the story to have been longer, and I get that some readers enjoy complete resolution. But I like leaving an end or two untied.

The flirtation between “finished-enough” to be satisfying and left “unfinished-enough” to let the reader interact with the story is something that excites me as a writer. I want you left curious. I want to encourage you to participate in the story, to think about it long after you’ve put the story down.

It worked in the case of Baby Jane, and I hope it works in my stories, too.

Find Out “What’s Inside”: a Horror Preview

Just in time for Halloween, I thought I’d share an excerpt of my short horror story, “What’s Inside”. Graphic, disturbing, and unsettling, this one’s my favourite!

“She’s only a little dead. I can feel the warm. The bits inside, for sure, are hot.

There was a lot more blood than I expected; more than when I done either the mouse or the chipmunk.
Maybe it’s because of the babies. I learned in school that a lady has more blood when she’s pregnant. “It’s because the baby needs more food,” Mrs Chappel told us. I don’t know what that had to do with anything; I just wanted to hear about the blood. But when she talked she rubbed her hand around and around on her belly, and the sound drove me bananas until I couldn’t hear her words anymore. She was always touching her belly and smiling; I don’t understand why she was so happy to be getting fat.

I’ve got my favourite sharp stick here and I squidge it around inside. There’s some lumpy stuff, and a thing that looks like a kidney bean. I tried poking at it but it got stuck on my stick and I had to shake it off. It went splat when it hit the dirt and had little stringy bits like a spider’s web all over it.

I kicked some dust on it. It’s not what I want.

I get up close again, and don’t get any grass on my knees. My Mom just bought me these jeans and she’ll be mad at me if I wreck ’em.

The knife I took out of Daddy’s drawer is right here with me. It’s all rusty and I couldn’t get it open at first but I worked real hard and it opened right up. It just took some wiggling.
“My clever boy,” Mom says inside my head, and it makes me smile. I love my Mom.

It’s starting to get a little dark out. Goosey bumps are all over my arms, even though I have my coat all did up.

What happened was I stayed in the cloakroom after the last bell. I was trying to think. It was warm and dark in there, and even though it smelled like wet boots it made me feel safe.

Mrs Chappel came to the doorway of the cloakroom and pulled me out of the pile of other kids’ clothes. There’s babies inside her, two of them. I wanted to know if they could see me from in there.

“Do your babies have eyelids?”

“Well, that’s a good question. Yes, I think they do.” She was rubbing at her belly again and her hand went scratch scratch scratch against her shirt.

“It’s too loud! I don’t like when you do that.”

Her hand stopped. “Okay, Cody, time to get you home. Put on your coat.”

I let her help me, even though I’m big enough to do it myself. And then I had a lightbulb.

“Mrs Chappel, my mom can’t come get me today. Can you take me home?”

“Hmm. Why don’t we call her? We’ll go to the office and I’ll let you use the phone.”

“No! She can’t come. She had a appointment. And my dad can’t come either. He works.”

Mrs Chappel’s eyebrows went all up.

“It’s close to here.” It’s not, really, but I tell good lies.

She got down on her knees and zipped up my coat. Her eyes were big and brown, with little bits of green.

“I can’t take you home to an empty house, Cody.”

“I could…I could go to my neighbour’s. She’s old, so we can’t call her. She doesn’t hear. But she watches me, sometimes.”

Mrs Chappel tried to stand back up, but it wasn’t easy for her. I put my arm out and let her push on it, but I knew she wasn’t really putting weight on me. Grownups never think you can do stuff.

I do lots of things that grownups don’t know about.”

From What’s Inside, a horror short by Stefanie N Snider.
Throw a buck at Amazon or Smashwords and find out why some kids are better left alone.

Find Out “What’s Inside”: a Horror Preview

“She’s only a little dead. I can feel the warm. The bits inside, for sure, are hot.

There was a lot more blood than I expected; more than when I done either the mouse or the chipmunk.
Maybe it’s because of the babies. I learned in school that a lady has more blood when she’s pregnant. “It’s because the baby needs more food,” Mrs Chappel told us. I don’t know what that had to do with anything; I just wanted to hear about the blood. But when she talked she rubbed her hand around and around on her belly, and the sound drove me bananas until I couldn’t hear her words anymore. She was always touching her belly and smiling; I don’t understand why she was so happy to be getting fat.

I’ve got my favourite sharp stick here and I squidge it around inside. There’s some lumpy stuff, and a thing that looks like a kidney bean. I tried poking at it but it got stuck on my stick and I had to shake it off. It went splat when it hit the dirt and had little stringy bits like a spider’s web all over it.

I kicked some dust on it. It’s not what I want.
I get up close again, and don’t get any grass on my knees. My Mom just bought me these jeans and she’ll be mad at me if I wreck ’em.

The knife I took out of Daddy’s drawer is right here with me. It’s all rusty and I couldn’t get it open at first but I worked real hard and it opened right up. It just took some wiggling.
“My clever boy,” Mom says inside my head, and it makes me smile. I love my Mom.

It’s starting to get a little dark out. Goosey bumps are all over my arms, even though I have my coat all did up.

What happened was I stayed in the cloakroom after the last bell. I was trying to think. It was warm and dark in there, and even though it smelled like wet boots it made me feel safe.

Mrs Chappel came to the doorway of the cloakroom and pulled me out of the pile of other kids’ clothes. There’s babies inside her, two of them. I wanted to know if they could see me from in there.

“Do your babies have eyelids?”

“Well, that’s a good question. Yes, I think they do.” She was rubbing at her belly again and her hand went scratch scratch scratch against her shirt.

“It’s too loud! I don’t like when you do that.”

Her hand stopped. “Okay, Cody, time to get you home. Put on your coat.”

I let her help me, even though I’m big enough to do it myself. And then I had a lightbulb.

“Mrs Chappel, my mom can’t come get me today. Can you take me home?”

“Hmm. Why don’t we call her? We’ll go to the office and I’ll let you use the phone.”

“No! She can’t come. She had a appointment. And my dad can’t come either. He works.”

Mrs Chappel’s eyebrows went all up.

“It’s close to here.” It’s not, really, but I tell good lies.

She got down on her knees and zipped up my coat. Her eyes were big and brown, with little bits of green.

“I can’t take you home to an empty house, Cody.”

“I could…I could go to my neighbour’s. She’s old, so we can’t call her. She doesn’t hear. But she watches me, sometimes.”

Mrs Chappel tried to stand back up, but it wasn’t easy for her. I put my arm out and let her push on it, but I knew she wasn’t really putting weight on me. Grownups never think you can do stuff.

I do lots of things that grownups don’t know about.”

From What’s Inside, a horror short by Stefanie N Snider.
Throw a buck at Amazon or Smashwords and find out why some kids are better left alone.